Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Middle Distance Runner

Veronica is In a Relationship with Running and It's Complicated.

I won't say I hated cross country, as that seems too strong a term.  Rather, I actively disliked it.  I knew I could never make the varsity team - instead after two seasons, I received what most, including myself, disparagingly referred to as a 'mercy letter'.  My dad told me to view the sport as a way to keep in shape for track, but truthfully it was difficult for me to maintain that mindset.

Track, on the other hand, was a sheer delight.  I competed in a variety of events during my high school career, but it was the 400m dash and the 4x400m relay that gained me a spot on the varsity team my freshman year.  I have so many fantastic memories with friends, of hot, muggy runs, inside jokes, and spending entire days at invitationals.

After going off to Cornell, I focused primarily on my studies (my grades there weren't too hot to begin with; I shudder to think what they might have been if I had attempted to balance school and a part-time job with an extracurricular.)  and elected not to join the track or cross country teams.  My college roommate also ran in high school, so we began freshman year with intermittent runs, including a memorable 2 AM run on Halloween night, and a grand total of one road race.

After college, I ran sporadically, and each run followed the same pattern:

At the start - this is GREAT!  I was born to run.


The next day, I'd be sore, but tell myself that was the worst I would feel, because I'd start running regularly this time, dammit! It could only get better from there.

Except it didn't.  I didn't.  My dedication rarely lasted more than a week or two.  And now, well.  It's been (just) over a year since I've done an actual, proper run.  Parts of my body still haven't forgiven me for the pregnancy, let alone the following surgery and accompanying (and ongoing...forever ongoing) sleep deprivation.

But this past Friday, a coworker lost her sister at age 41.  And it dawned on me that I will be 41 in thirteen short years.  I am nowhere near ready to check out yet.  With that epiphany, I've decided to revamp both my diet (which admittedly, has been quite terrible at times since my son's birth) and my (lack of an) exercise program.  I know it won't be easy.  And I know things can happen with your health that are completely beyond your control.  But I also know there are things you can do to make your life a lot healthier, and more comfortable as a result.

Most importantly, Finn needs me.

I know I won't always be able to outrun him, but I'll be damned if he doesn't have to work for it.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Beautiful Boy

Aah, yes.  Updating on a computer is much better.

Now where was I? Oh, yes.  I was going to tell you about the birth of my son, Finn.

For those of you who don't know, I have a minor bleeding disorder - in essence, my spleen does not recognize my platelets and so sends out antibodies to have them destroyed.  As a result, I have, on average, about a third as many platelets as the average adult.  I'm not a hemophiliac, or anything like that, and for most of my life it hasn't caused me the slightest inconvenience.  When Ben & I decided to start a family, though, we played it safe and spoke to our doctor first.  He said there wouldn't be much to be concerned about, provided my platelet levels stayed more or less at their current level (which they had been at for the past few years), though there was a small (roughly 10% chance) that I would pass on the disorder to the baby.

Shortly after this conversation, we found out we were expecting!  Aside from some rather terrible morning sickness for the duration of the first trimester (pro tip: if you are feeling at all nauseated, stay the hell away from raw carrots and broccoli.  They're far and away the worst thing I have EVER had the misfortune to get sick from, and I still shy away from them now.) we were doing monthly platelet counts, and all was well.  You may have suspected, though, by my even mentioning the disorder, that things weren't going to stay that way....

So at more or less the last minute (around 36 weeks) I was informed that I would not be delivering at the Naval Hospital where we had been going to all of our appointments, but at Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma, about an hour's drive from us.  Having been there before (to see a hematologist, no less) I was ok with it in principle, though the idea of driving an hour - potentially longer in traffic -whilst in labor, was very unsettling.

Then my platelets started to drop. Precipitously. Ben and I made drives to Madigan for two 6-hour IV treatments, neither of which worked (in the doctor's defense, that particular treatment is designed to work slowly, but with my due date being as close as it was, it did not have time to work).  We saw a Maternal Fetal Specialist, consulted again with Hematology, and ultimately they decided I would be induced at 39 weeks to the day.  My platelets were at such a level that I would be unable to have an epidural (I was fine with this, as I did not want one anyway) or a C-section, if I needed one (this made me nervous).  I was also coming down with the flu at this time, despite having received my flu shot, so I felt more than ready.

Ben got us a hotel room in downtown Seattle for our last night before I was admitted, and it was lovely.  They upgraded us to a suite for only $20 (whether that was a standard offer, I don't know, but it was fantastic all the same).  I remember the next morning Ben went out to Pike's Place Market and got me some raspberries, and they were just about the most amazing thing I'd ever eaten.  After breakfast (and a FANTASTIC pedicure), we headed into the hospital, where I was set up on the Mother-Baby Unit.  I remained there for about a day and a half, during which I received another two rounds of the IV treatment, along with steroids, in an effort to boost my platelets.  Ben and I also watched the Ravens win the Super Bowl on the hospital's TV, which was approximately the size of an iPad.

The morning of 6 February, they moved me to the other end of the wing, into a birthing suite to begin the induction.  Contractions started soon after, but it was rather an agonizingly slow process. To help pass the time, we had brought along several DVDs, including 'The Avengers'.  Much to our amusement, the DVD player had somehow been connected incorrectly, to where any DVD we watched appeared in black and white.  I don't remember much else of the day, other than not much happened.
Honestly, from here on out, things get very fuzzy for me.  My second day in labor began, with not much additional progress.  The doctors (of which I saw several, including maternal/fetal specialists, hematologists, and anestheticians) began to get concerned with my blood pressure, which had been steadily rising.  Eventually I was diagnosed with 'HELLP' syndrome.  I don't remember what everything stands for, other than it has something to do with liver enzymes, high blood pressure, & low platelets. I was then placed on magnesium to prevent seizures (and with the steroids and pain meds, I now had 4 IVs), and because of the mag I was on fluid restriction.  By far, this was the worst aspect of my complications.  I was permitted 25 mL of fluid each hour.  I don't have to tell you that's not very much.  With Ben's help, I snuck extra drinks and jello.
That evening, some of our friends came by to see how we were doing.  A nurse came in and was instantly flustered at the extra people in my room (about 6 all told, I believe), and rushed to my beside and spluttered that "these people were going to overstimulate you and give you a seizure!" which was pretty awesome that she felt compelled to alarm me like that, particularly in front of a group of people that were not family...but I digress.  I had another, more powerful contraction at that moment, closing my eyes against the pain.  Ben later told me that the nurse sort of fluttered her hands over me, telling me to just "ride through it".  Then the doctor came back in and checked me to see how far along I was, and at this point I had been pretty well stalled out for the last several hours.  I was then informed that if no progress was made within the hour, they were going to do a C-section.  I looked at Ben, concerned, because that wasn't something we had ever really discussed.  I had been so confident throughout my pregnancy that I would be able to have a regular delivery that my readings on C-sections had been cursory, at best.  When they came back, they discovered that the baby had passed his first BM (hooray...) and that he needed to get out as soon as possible.  Once the decision was made, things moved very quickly.  They got me ready to go and I couldn't stop staring at Ben crying.  I did my best to reassure him but it was hard as I was rather terrified myself.  As they wheeled me down the hall, I asked where my friends were, and a nurse told me they were in the waiting room.  I called out to them as loud as I could (no mean feat, given the terrible cough I had with the flu) to 'FIND BEN! MAKE SURE HE'S OK!'
They wheeled me into the OR and brought my arms out to the side, and I lay there for a few moments while they prepared everything.  And I thought to myself, this is how I die.  I needed to cough so badly, and I could not catch my breath lying on my back with the baby pressing down on me.  A nurse briefly explained the procedure to me, and they went to put an oxygen mask on me.  I jerked my head to the side and blurted out, 'His name's Finn!  The baby's name is Finn.'  Ben and I had made the decision to reveal the baby's gender but not his name until he was born.  But I felt that the way things had spiralled so dramatically out of my control, that it was important to me that my son was greeted in the world by his name.

And that's all I remember of his birth.  Finn spent approximately 18 hours in the NICU, as he was very lethargic from all of the meds I had been given.  We took him home about 2 days after that, and he is now almost 6 months old.  He has 2 bottom teeth, can roll over front to back, and can sit unsupported for a fair period of time.

He was worth every single minute of that pregnancy.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Ballad of the Comeback Kid

Well, to say it's been awhile would be rather an understatement. Truth be told, I'm not entirely sure exactly how long it's been...I'm guessing roundabouts 4 years? 5? I know I could check in my archives, but frankly it's not terribly convenient (note to self - blogging from an iPhone is a mistake). For anyone who had been following me way back when, and happens to come across this, I shall try to update at least once or twice a week.

In the meantime, here's the highlight reel of my life in the last 5 years:

1. Ben and I got married in San Antonio in May 2010.

2. Jack (our golden) is still with us, and made a cross-country trip with me in 2010 from Michigan to Washington state to meet up with Ben, who is stationed here in the Navy.

3. We chose a second dog, Lucy, a hilarious black Lab mix in June 2011.

4. After working at the local mall, and a brief (ill-fated) stint as a security guard at a national retail chain, I am now a nursing assistant at an area nursing home.

5. On 6 February of this year, I gave birth to a beautiful little boy! I am back at work full-time, and continuing to work on the whole home-work life balance thing.

Well, that's the high points (not many lows, really). More to come!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Dry My Tears and Move On

So St Louis fell through. I won't bother with the details, but rest assured, it is a painful story filled with heartache, betrayal, deception, and ravenous hammerhead sharks.

OK, so I'm exaggerating. I have to keep it light - it's that or brood over the fact that my safety net has abruptly been yanked away. There are still some bitter feelings, to be sure, but on the whole I'm trying not to dwell on it.

Instead I am refocusing my efforts on finding a new job. At this point I'm looking at waitressing, something to at least give me some hours (as opposed to my current job where I am averaging...oh, 8 hours a week) and money until full-time jobs start coming back. I'm also planning to do some cold calling in the Chicago area, as I will be spending some time there later this month to do some Moxie-sitting. (I plan to teach her that before I leave. I checked out The Idiot's Guide to Dog Tricks, and everything.)

In the meantime, Ben and I are getting by, mostly by our weekly bowling night to keep us sane. The bowling alley near us has $2 Tuesdays, plus a student discount (and luckily my Cornell ID does not have a date on it, heh), so we can rent shoes and bowl 4 games each for only $15! We are slooooowly getting better - actually the very last game we played, Ben got a turkey (3 strikes in a row). I bet he could give Diana a run for her money.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

My Poor Brain

I am very stressed out.

Because of the economy, and retail struggling as a whole, my hours have been cut down to...oh, about 2 shifts per week.  Since there is essentially no work to be found in Michigan, I am obliged to relocate to the St Louis area, to work for my uncle.  I resisted this idea for a long time, naively hoping that I could find a decent full-time job here.  

But I am in debt up to my eyeballs, so that kind of sucked the life out of my negotiating skills.

I've now accepted the fact that I'm moving, as soon as my dad works out the details with my uncle.  Actually, there are many aspects of this I'm looking forward to.

Obviously, moving away from Ben is not one of them.  My hope is that I will have saved up enough money by the end of the summer to get an apartment, and that he can come down and stay with me for a few months until...he leaves for the Navy.

We had both toyed with the idea of joining the military for some months now.  Don't get me wrong, I'm a lover not a fighter...but the idea of good health insurance, cheap car insurance, and the bulk of my student loans paid off was becoming increasingly tempting.  
Ultimately I decided that I'm too much of a wimp to make it through boot camp, and Ben was rather insistent that he should be the one to go if one of us joined.  And my mom said I'm too cute for the Army.  We had kind of set the idea aside for awhile, but as our finances shrank, Ben went to see the Navy recruiter.  He just had his physical earlier this week, and is officially signed up.

To be honest, I don't think it's hit me yet.  When he first decided that he was definitely going to sign up, I got excited and started looking at 'I Love My Sailor' t-shirts, and Navy car magnets.  Then when he actually signed the paperwork, my excitement dwindled.  I think for a time I was more enamored with the *idea* of him joining the Navy, rather than what his enlistment truly meant.  
That's not to say that this wasn't a joint decision that we discussed at length - it was - but of course I couldn't have any idea how I was going to feel when things actually were in motion.  I don't have anything to compare this to.  He plans to become a Navy diver, so at least there's not a large demand in Iraq or Afghanistan...but I'm still going to be worried.  I know this will be a good experience for him, if for no other reason than it gives him the funds to be able to complete his bachelor's (his parents have refused to cosign on any more student loans).

Well, here's hoping.  And Semper, wait, that's the Marines.  Does the Navy even have a motto?  I have no idea - Ben's factbook doesn't say, though interestingly enough it does have the lyrics to 'Anchors Aweigh'.  Heh.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Finger Lickin' Good

Ben & I were watching Jackass 2.5 the other night (confession time - even though I wouldn't do about 99.9% of the things they do on that show, I do enjoy watching it) and we saw Stevo drink beer poured down the, oh, let's say...4 foot fingernails of a man in India.  

Let me repeat that: Four. Foot. Fingernails.
They were green, and slimy in appearance.  The thumbnail curled back in on itself, much like a watch spring, only attached to your hand.  The other nails extended nearly to the ground, twisting like some sort of nasty fingernail linguine.  The man protected his nails in a burlap-type sack, presumably to keep them from cracking.  
After getting over the grossness of drinking beer off someone's fingernails (anyone's fingernails, no matter what length...ew. Just the idea of biting my own nails is icky.), Ben & I contemplated the difficulty of carrying around such a weight.  I mean, that's got to be a considerable strain on the arm and hand, since it didn't look like he could fully relax his arm without having the nails crunch on the floor (*shuddering at visual image*).  How would you dress yourself?  Or shower?  Or sleep?  It seems like way too much inconvenience, for no real reason.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Whatever Gets You Through Today

I have been failing rather spectacularly at keeping my blog in the spirit of optimism and general is a meme-type thing appropriated from a friend's facebook:

Rules: Once you've been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits or goals about you.  At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged.  You have to tag the person who tagged you.  If I tagged you, it's because I want to know more about you.

(A note here - since this originally came from facebook, 25 people is nothing there. But I don't even follow 25 blogs, so I'm going to open this up to whomever is interested, quite possibly no one.  And please don't feel required to tag me back - wouldn't that just result in a never-ending cycle of 25 facts, tagging, being tagged, 25 facts, etc?)

1. I am very probably moving to the St. Louis area within the next month or so.

2. This does not bother me as much as it once did.

3. In 5th grade, I wanted to play the saxophone like Lisa Simpson.  My parents argued that sticks were cheaper, so I played the drums instead.

4. I have been a vegetarian at two points in my life.  Sometimes when I have a mouthful of meat, my brain will say 'this is flesh' and I'll feel incredibly grossed out.

5. I love love loooooove country music.  I am the only one in my family who does.

6. My boyfriend is joining the Navy.  I have never been more proud/terrified in my life.

7. I hate when people bite their silverware.

8. I was not directly affected by the events of 9/11, but to this day I cannot see any footage of it without crying.

9. I prefer Cherry Coke to regular.

10. I would love to teach children about the environment.

11. If I had to be homeless, I would want to live in Hawaii.  Their homeless people live on the beach.

12. I would love to get a book published, but I fear I haven't anything interesting to say.  At least not enough to fill a book.

13. I have read Bill Bryson's A Walk In The Woods probably 10 times or more.

14. The only book I may have read more frequently is Where the Red Fern Grows.

15. In kindergarten, I wanted to be a construction worker on the moon.

16. I believe that wish helped me get into Cornell.  I referenced it in an application essay.

17. I have never broken a bone.  I have fractured my skull, and sprained my wrist, ankle and thumb.

18. I enjoy giving blood.

19. I once had a cell phone embedded into a dirt road by a minivan.

20. I plan to expand on my tattoo once I get the money. (sorry, Mom)

21. I have been to France twice.

22. If I could travel anywhere in the world, it would either be Ireland or Australia.

23. I am a youth group leader at a Catholic church.

24. If Obama had lost the election, I would be living in Canada right now.

25. I can't listen to Ted Leo and the Pharmacists' "Me and Mia" without dancing.